October is Women’s Small Business Month (WSBM), and truly deserves to be celebrated. Women have made tremendous strides as small business owners, although there are still many challenges ahead. Here are some ways you can draw personal meaning from WSBM as you celebrate the occasion.
Learn About the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC):
The Council was formed in 1988 with the mission to help end discriminatory lending to women. The Council continues to this day, giving important non-partisan advice to the federal government about issues vital to women business owners. It’s refreshing to see how much progress has been made as people of good will dedicate themselves to extending progress to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
Identify Your Business as Woman-Owned:
You can get the word out on your website and on social media. Include figures and statistics about the rising presence of women-owned small businesses. For example, did you know that almost 40% of U.S. businesses are owned by women, comprising more than 11 million female business owners? Add a page to your website discussing how you created an innovative service or product, and any obstacles you had to overcome as a woman.
Offer and Encourage Mentorship to Young Women:
If you are a role model for female entrepreneurship, consider mentoring the next generation of women business owners. You can speak to local groups, form an organization with other local businesswomen, and bring in interns to learn how a business works.
Schedule Special Sales and Promotions:
Make October a month your customers will remember by sponsoring sales and promotions tied to WSBM. This can be especially effective if you offer products or services that are helpful to women and families. Consider running an essay contest and awarding prizes to young women who describe their passion for starting and running a business.
Get Involved in the Political Process:
There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that women get equal pay for equal work, and that businesswomen get the same access to credit that businessmen do. Support candidates and initiatives that can help women overcome obstacles and increase the availability of capital.
Publicize Grants to Women Owned Businesses:
There are many national, state, and local grants available to female entrepreneurs, such as these five leading examples:
- InnovateHER Grant:
This grant, sponsored by the Small Business Administration, awards three grants annually totaling $70,000 to businesses that develop offerings that empower and influence women and their families.
- Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program:
Ms. Fisher had but $350 when she launched her clothing business in 1984. The company now annually earns more than $300 million in revenues, and it pays its success forward with 10 annual grants totaling $100,000.
- FedEx Small Business Grant Contest:
Although not exclusively for women, females have had great success receiving hundreds of thousands in grant money, including several women grand prize winners.
- Girlboss Foundation Grants:
Since 2014, the Foundations has granted over $120,000 to women entrepreneurs in the fields of music, design, fashion, and the arts. Grants are awarded quarterly in amounts ranging from $500 to $15,000.
- Amber Grants:
WomenNet launched Amber Grants in 1998 to commemorate a young woman who died before achieving her entrepreneurial dreams. Grants are small, numerous, and easy to apply for.
- InnovateHER Grant:
The ways you can recognize WSBM are limited only by your imagination. If you are a woman growing your own business, remember that IOU Financial is an equal opportunity lender that has lent millions of dollars to female entrepreneurs. Contact us today if you’d like to take your business to the next level!